Myth & Moor update

Painting by Terri Windling

My apologies for missing the Monday Tunes post today. It's been a hard week or so around here -- not for me personally, I hasten to add, but for several people (and animals*) around me, all going through tough times large and small. When many different things require attention (work, family life, supporting my loved ones), I'm afraid it's this blog that must draw the short straw. I hope to be back again on Wednesday...and I'll post the music I'd planned for today next week.

Here is a thing I've been thinking about: The world is a troubled place right now, full of anger and divisiveness on the political Left and Right alike. This can trickle down from the cultural/political level to our personal relationships, if we're not careful. Both online and off, so many exchanges seem to be unusually and reflexively sharp right now. The world is hot, metaphorically speaking, and it seems to me like it needs cooling down. As artists, as wordsmiths, as people who walk the good earth, let's be part of that cooling. Let's talk, not shout; unite, not divide. Let's be still and silent sometimes, not just quick and reactive.

My mantra these days is: be gentle, be gentle, be gentle. Stand your ground, know your truth, but be kind.

Studio light* Tilly has another vet appointment for a persistent health problem tomorrow. It's not life-threatening, but has been troublesome and going on for a while. Please send her good thoughts for a positive outcome and full recovery.

Reading and resting

Georg Pauli

I'm afraid I'm out of the studio for another day or two. It's frustrating to find myself back in bed again, but it's only a stomach flu this time and will surely be over soon. Meanwhile, there are plenty of books to read, and the Faithful Hound cuddled beside me.

Woman Reading by Albert Moore

Reading by the Window by Charles James Lewis

"Reading is a co-production between writer and reader," says Ben Okri. "The simplicity of this tool is astounding. So little, yet out of it whole worlds, eras, characters, continents, people never encountered before, people you wouldn’t care to sit next to in a train, people that don’t exist, places you’ve never visited, enigmatic fates, all come to life in the mind, painted into existence by the reader’s creative powers. In this way the creativity of the writer calls up the creativity of the reader. Reading is never passive."

Charles Edward Perugini

Robert-Archibald Graafland

''Beware of the stories you read or tell," he warns; "subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.''

Carl Larsson

Leopold von Kalckreuth

The pictures today: reading and resting. Artists are identified in the picture captions.

Jessie Wilcox SmithThe quotes by Ben Okri are from his essay collection A Way of Being Free (Phoenix, 1998); all rights reserved by the author.

Off to see the sheep


 No post today because we're off to Chagford Show, our village's annual agricultural fair, to look at sheep, cows, tractors and vegetables; watch horse trials and dog contests; and consume locally grown, baked, brewed or bottled things in the company of our rural neighbors. (These pictures are from last year's post on Chagford Show. To see more them, go here.)

On Friday, I'll be preparing for the "Power of Story" talk on Saturday night. I'll be back to Myth & Moor on Monday.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

The passing traffic at Chagford Show

Tilly & Howard at the old tractor dispay

Tilly in the woods

Many thanks to all who came to the Widdershins Meet the Artists evening at Green Hill Arts on Saturday night, as well as to all the artists who spoke so eloquently about their work there. The exhibition is still running, until August 27th, and I'll be at one more event associated with it: the Power of Story talk on August 20th. (Check out the Green Hill calendar for other events too.)

Tilly and I will be back to Myth & Moor this Wednesday. See you then!

Myth & Moor update

Nature studies by Beatrix Potter

Summer outside the studio windows

I'm off-line for the rest of the week, taking some "Studio Retreat" time in order to focus entirely on a work-in-progress. Tilly and I will be back next week.

Here's a round-up of recent reading recommendations to leave you with until then:

Sarah Lyall on Robert Macfarlane's "Landmarks" (The New York Times)

Claire Armitstead on Devon poet Alice Oswald (The Guardian)

Paul Kingsnorth on writing about the animate landscape (The Guardian)

Daniel A. Gross on silence (Nautilus), Rubin Naiman on sleep (Aeon), and Sara Lewis on fireflies (Aeon)

The hound lounging in the studio garden

Akilesh Ayyar on different ways of writing a novel (The Millions)

Ramona Ausubel on how to be a writer (Lit Hub)

Amanda Craig on the summer's best children's books (The New Statesman)

Anne Gracie interviews Eva Ibbotson (The Word Wenches)

Rob Maslen on "Children's Fantasy Literature: An Introduction" (The City of Lost Books)


Cat sketch by Beatrix Potter

Charles Vess on illustrating "The Books of Earthsea" by Ursula Le Guin  (

Katherine Langrish on dwarfs, pixies, and the "Little Dark People" (Seven Miles of Steel Thistles)

Rosemary Hill on Beatrix Potter (London Review of Books)

Glynis Ridley on pioneer botanist Jeanne Baret (The Dangerous Women Project)

Hedgehog sketches by Beatrix Potter

Lily Gurton-Wachter on the literature of motherhood (Los Angeles Review of Books)

Lauren Elkin on female flâneurs  (The Guardian)

Jane Shilling on A.S. Byatt's Peacock & Vine, about William Morris & Mariano Fortuny (The New Statesman)

Kirsty Stonell Walker on Frida Kahlo & Elizabeth Siddal (The Kissed Mouth)

And here's a post of mine on why Internet breaks are important, as I prepare to spend time off-line.


Some recommended viewing:

Kevin Horan's glorious portraits of goats & sheep (The Washington Post)

Charles Fréger's portraits of the afterlife at Japanese folklore festivals (CoDesign)

Some recommended listening:

Syria's Secret Library (BBC Radio 4)

Robert Macfarlane on landscape & language (Radio New Zealand)

Reading ''When Women Rose Rooted'' by Sharon Blackie

Myth & Moor update

Tolkien at Oxford

Re-posting this in case anyone missed it:

I will be delivering the 4th Annual Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College, Oxford University this Thursday at 6:30 pm. The Pembroke Fantasy lecture series "explores the history and current state of fantasy literature, in honour of JRR Tolkien, who wrote The Hobbit and much of The Lord of the Rings during his twenty years at the college." The lecture I'll be giving is Tolkien's Long Shadow: Reflections on Fantasy Literature in the Post-Tolkien Era. Admission is free, but you need to register for a ticket and space is limited. Go here for further details.

Illustration by Arthur Rackham

I am taking a short break from Myth & Moor this coming week to deal with other pressing matters, and to prepare for Oxford. May 30th is a holiday here in Britain, so the Hound and I will be back on Tuesday, May 31st.

May 30th is also the date of the annual Two Hills Race here in Chagford, a gruelling route up and down two steep hills, with brambles and a bog in between. Our nine-year-old friend Fynn has decided to run this year to raise money to support wounded veterans. If you can spare a few pennies to pledge to this young man's heart-felt cause, it would encourage him greatly (and make those of us who care for him very happy too). The site takes Paypal and credit cards in any currancy, and even very small amounts are welcome. More info here.

Have a good and creative week.

At the gateIllustration by Arthur Rackham.

Myth & Moor update

Helen Stratton


Gentle Readers, I'm out of the studio again due to health issues. I'll be back to Myth & Moor just as soon as I can be. Thanks for your patience.

If anyone else here is coping with an illness, here are two good essays on the subject that I stumbled upon recently: "On the Harmed Body: A Tribute to Hillary Gravendyk" by Diana Arterian (The LA Review of Books) and "Tiny Little Messes" by Simone Gorrindo (Vela Magazine).

And if you need some cheering up, try "Dogs I Would Like to Own in Art, Even Though They Are Probably Dead Now" by the divine Mallory Ortberg at The Toast. It certainly made me smile. (There's a sequel too.)